Big tanks, but not quite supreme

If anyone ever figures out how to make the mobile equivalent of the popular online game World of Tanks, they stand to make a boatload of money, possibly even with a capital ‘B.’ The thing is, no one has quite been able to execute that game’s quality and precision on touchscreens. Battle Supremacy by Atypical Games and Revo Games is the latest to give it a shot, but despite some worthy efforts, it’s still no mobile substitute for the real thing.

It’s certainly not for a lack of visual oomph. Battle Supremacy looks gorgeous, if that’s an appropriate word for a game featuring rolling death machines. From the tanks themselves to the little flourishes like butterflies and snow, the developers did things right. The introductions and cutscenes during the solo missions are notable highlights, made to look like old war footage in all its sepia-toned antiquity.

Yes, I said solo missions, which is something not all games like this have. The first one even serves as a tutorial, though you’ll have to find it yourself as it’s the first of many features that goes unexplained. Each mission gives you several AI partners to help you tackle multiple objectives. The lone drawback is that you don’t know how long each mission will last, giving you no way to tell if you can go for broke or play things more cautiously.

Completing solo missions gets you experience points to improve your rank – needed to unlock the game’s eight tanks – and upgrade points to improve the main gun, armor, engine, treads and radar. You can see how each upgrade affects your stats before you buy, and the points are universal, so you can spend them on any tank you’re able to use. Unlike World of Tanks, there’s no real life equipment involved, simply boosts to the gear you’ve got.

The fact that you get triple rewards in multiplayer matches proves that playing against other human opponents is where your real focus should be. On that front, there’s good news, as joining a multiplayer battle is a single tap away. Unfortunately, that’s balanced out by quite a bit of bad.

Battle Supremacy

Probably the most jarring thing is that you can be thrown into a battle already in progress. You’ll see players drop in and out during the 10-minute time limit, whether it’s a Deathmatch, King of the Hill, or Capture the Base. There’s no penalty for quitting on your teammates, as you earn points based on how you perform up to that point.

Realism also takes a hit since friendly fire doesn’t affect you. But the silliest part is that the radar allows you to see the location of every tank on both teams all the time. While this does keep the action moving, it eliminates the cat and mouse element present in some other tank games where vehicles stay hidden until they’re in someone’s line of sight.

The controls in combat are also a mixed bag. A virtual thumbstick on the left moves your tank while another on the right handles the turret, and while it’s not an ideal system, it’s the best anyone’s come up with so far on a touchscreen. Yet your gun is still troublesome due to its tendency to reorient itself at inopportune times, and the auto-target lock is extremely unreliable. It can and should be turned off, though again, the game isn’t so forthcoming about that.

Battle Supremacy

Maybe the most fun thing to do is simply drive around and enjoy the power of running over stuff in a tank. Trees and small structures generally give way to your armored war machine with a satisfying crash, and some objects can be blown apart with your gun, too. The environmental flourishes are often pretty cool, like the constantly moving train on one map that can spell doom if you’re on the tracks when it comes calling.

Those touches aren’t enough to save Battle Supremacy from a general feeling of mediocrity. Every positive has a negative to balance it out, and one gets the sense that it’s going to succeed or fail based on future updates. More than anything, it shows that while making a mobile tank battle game is a great goal, it’s not easy to do, or else would probably just put out a World of Tanks edition for tablets and be done with it.